Laura and Jason Kenny settle for silver medals as Team GB lose their grip

The couple now have 13 Olympic medals between them.

By Press Association Published: 3 August 2021 - 3.06pm
Olympics Cycling

Jason Kenny

Laura and Jason Kenny settled for silver medals at the Tokyo Olympics as Great Britain’s crown slipped in the velodrome.

After a decade of British dominance in Olympic track cycling, proof that the rest of the world has caught up came as Laura and the women’s team pursuit squad finished second to a German team who smashed the world record, while Jason and the men’s team sprint squad were comfortably distanced by Holland.

Both still had a better day than the men’s team pursuit squad, kings of the event since 2008, as they were left with no more to fight for than seventh after a dramatic day which began with the snap retirement of Ed Clancy and ended with Denmark’s Frederick Madsen crashing into Charlie Tanfield.

Britain had looked second best to Germany in the women’s team pursuit qualifying on Monday, and it had not changed 24 hours later.

Britain's most successful female Olympians
(PA Graphics)

The surprise was the eventual margin of victory. The two teams looked relatively closely matched, both breaking the world record in the first round, but Germany utterly dominated the final, stopping the clock in four minutes 04.249 seconds – more than six seconds faster than the Brits.

“Our target time was a (4:06),” said Laura Kenny, who had helped Britain win gold and set world records in every round at the two previous Olympics where the women’s team pursuit was contested.

“We just never expected anyone else to go and do a (4:04). I think we should be really proud of doing a 4:06, that’s really going some. Right now, it just feels a bit disappointing that we didn’t get gold by doing so.”

British celebrations for the world record they set in the first round had been cut short when Katie Archibald crashed into Neah Evans after the finish, both left with scars they insisted had not played a major role in their slower time in the final.

Katie Archibald, Laura Kenny, Neah Evans and Josie Knight in action
Katie Archibald, Laura Kenny, Neah Evans and Josie Knight had to settle for silver (Danny Lawson/PA)

Second place ends Laura’s 100 per cent record of winning gold in every Olympic event she has entered, though she has medal chances remaining in the Madison and omnium.

“As an athlete, you want to win everything,” she said. “I don’t think it’s any harder for me than it is anyone else taking silver. We set our hearts on gold, we wanted to win gold, so yeah we are going to feel disappointed…

“(Germany) were phenomenal, you can’t take anything away from them. That is incredible, that’s going to be a record that stands for a long time I think.”

Jason missed the first of his three chances to move clear of Sir Chris Hoy’s Olympic gold medal tally as Great Britain took silver in the men’s team sprint.

Britain’s most successful male Olympians
(PA Graphics)

Silver was enough to make Kenny Britain’s most decorated Olympian – his eighth medal tying him with Sir Bradley Wiggins but the colours of them putting him clear – but he, Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens were comfortably beaten by the all-conquering Dutch, who set a new Olympic record of 41.369 seconds.

“It’s nice,” he said of matching Wiggins. “I limped over the line with a silver!”

Laura revealed Tuesday was the first time Jason had ever admitted being nervous before competition, clearly aware of the challenge posed by a Dutch squad undefeated in a team sprint event since 2017.

“We set our hearts on gold, we wanted to win gold, so yeah we are going to feel disappointed”
- Laura Kenny

Britain had set a time of 41.829 seconds in the first round, but the fight to earn a place in the gold medal race took a toll and come the final they could not match a Dutch squad who had the luxury of a fourth rider to substitute in between rounds.

“We did the same thing we always do,” Jason said. “We came and emptied the tanks. We did our best ride I think. We pretty much nailed it in the first round and then we rolled the dice and went after the win.

“It didn’t go our way but they were better than us, simple as that. We knew we had to get better in the past few years, we have improved a lot and made a reasonable step but it was not enough.”

Kenny still has two more chances to add to his medal haul in these Games, due to compete in Friday’s individual sprint before Sunday’s keirin, but the challenge of beating the Dutch has clearly got no easier.

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